Mental Health and Hormones

Does it feel like sometimes, your mental health ebbs and flows with your hormonal cycle? You’re definitely not alone. I used to think I was losing it: because not only did I display physical symptoms of PMS, but I would also notice a flare-up of symptoms of my mental illness, or an episode of severe depression or anxiety which coincided with this time during my cycle.

Turns out, there’s a science and an explanation behind why all of these things happen to me, and why they might happen to you as well! Having a pre-existing mental health condition can create problems with your period, or can exacerbate existing problems, including both physical and emotional problems. Studies show that those who have depression or anxiety disorders experience worse symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), so it’s not unusual if you feel really terrible when when you’re on your period and want to just curl up in a ball with a heating pad. The good news is, there are ways to relieve these symptoms, so if you do find that this happens to you, you could definitely talk to a nurse or doctor about how you can do this.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a condition similar to PMS but generally with more extreme symptoms, including depression and irritability. So if you find yourself especially crabby during your period, this may be worth checking out or asking a doctor about. Those with depression and anxiety are more likely to be diagnosed with PMDD. Those with anxiety disorders and substance use disorders may actually even have shorter cycles than others – the average cycle is 28 days, and for these it is just 24. Depression, bipolar disorder and eating disorders are also linked to irregular periods.

For those of us with mental illnesses, they can be enough to deal with on their own – I don’t want to have to worry about my hormones as well! The good news is, there are a lot of different ways to control your hormone levels, and doctors and nurses are all trained to help you out with that!

Click here to read more about how your mental health can both impact and be impacted by your hormonal cycle!

For those who menstruate, do you notice your mental illness symptoms worsening before you start? Are there times during the month where you feel like your symptoms are more extreme than usual?

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